(Hong Kong Jockey Club)
Malesh Narredu, champion jockey of India, could very well be the International Team’s “secret weapon” in Saturday’s International Jockeys’ Challenge between South Africa and the “Rest of the World” at Turffontein.
David Mollet writes in the Business Day that this is the view of world-renowned rider Mick Kinane, who is the oldest and most experienced jockey in the international team. “I have ridden against Malesh and he’s a really talented guy - his record in his home country speaks for itself,” said Mick Kinane.
Interestingly, Malesh Narredu has won exactly the same number of jockey titles - 11 - as former South African champion Michael Muis Roberts, who will be the manager of the South African side on Saturday.
Malesh Narredu’s big race wins include 115 graded races, 41 Group One events and 53 classics. These include 11 derbies and India’s Triple Crown.
Nevertheless, even that record is dwarfed by that of 49-year-old Mick Kinane, who can boast more than 160 Gr1 victories all over the world including the Melbourne Cup on Dermot Weld’s stayer, Vintage Crop.
“That will always remain one of the great moments in my career as it was the first success by an international rider in Australia’s most important race,” said Mick Kinane.
The much admired Irishman said he was delighted to be back in South Africa after riding in the last International Challenge here 22 years ago.
Australia is represented in Saturday’s international team by Damien Oliver, who knows all about Cup day at Melbourne. He has won the marathon race twice and remains the only apprentice to have won the AJC Derby, Australia’s premier three-year-old race.
Malesh Narredu’s rides in the four international races are Chariots of Fire for Geoff Woodruff, Acheron for Sean Tarry, Twilights Rush for Ormond Ferraris and Single Minded for Stuart Pettigrew. While Chariots of Fire may battle against the likes of stable companion Kingdom Come and KZN raider Citizen Dante, Twilights Rush is a decent sort on his day and could have a say in the finish of the 1600m Lufthansa Handicap.
Mick Kinane’s four mounts in the international races are Keat’s Drift for Charles Laird, Sunny Jim for Geoff Woodruff, Flight Queen for Dennis Drier and Battle Hero for Paul Matchett.
Although Flight Queen has to concede weight all round in the Racing Association Handicap, she has an each-way chance but it seems likely she could find one too smart for her in Frankie Dettori’s mount, On The Bluff.
Frankie Dettori will be the big attraction at the city track as he is arguably the best known jockey in the sport. His affable attitude and big race successes have kept him in the media spotlight for the past two decades.”